Reports coming out of Iran show a new phase in that nation’s long persecution of the Baha’is, Iran’s largest religious minority. The latest reports focus on harassment, intimidation, abuse and expulsion of Baha’i children in primary and secondary schools. The Baha’i International Community first reported these abuses in April 2007, and recent reports indicate an escalating trend in recent months.
You can go here to find out more about this persecution, but here is a quote from the official U.S. Baha’i website:
Bahá’í school children in Iran are being subjected to cruel and harsh treatment as part of a government-sponsored campaign against the Bahá’í community. Reports indicate that Baha’i pupils are secretly monitored and reported upon by school officials, are subjected to vilification by their teachers and school administrators, and are forced to listen to vile and outrageous tales about the teachings of their Faith and the moral behavior of Baha’is. It has now become clear that Baha’i pupils in primary and secondary schools are being expelled on the basis of the stipulation in the “Golpaygani memorandum” that Baha’is “can be enrolled in schools provided they have not identified themselves as Baha’is”. Pupils are often expelled when they identify themselves as Baha’is, when they try to defend the Faith against utterly unfounded accusations, or when they respectfully attempt to correct gross misrepresentations of the Faith’s history in the textbooks they must study. It has also been reported that Baha’is in secondary schools are to be given grades sufficient to graduate but too low to allow entrance to university.
The above site also includes a link to a .pdf file offering more details. That report includes accounts of expulsions, vilification of the Baha’i Faith, and even kidnapping and assault. In a tribute to their classmates, some of these persecutions have led to protests and resistance by the Baha’is Muslim classmates.
What can you do?
First, follow this link for information about the current wave of persecutions. Then, spread the word to all people of good will. You can also contact your local U.S. Representative and ask him or her to cosponsor House Resolution 1008, which condemns the current persecution and calls upon the Iranian government to stop it. HR 1008 is the 10th resolution Congress has passed concerning the persecution of the Baha’is. Baha’is everywhere are grateful to members of Congress for their support of our beleaguered fellow believers in Iran, and their support of religious freedom in Iran and around the world.
For More Information:
State Department 2007 Religious Freedom Report on Iran, which offers details on the persecution of Baha’is, as well as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.
Persecution.org, which focuses on Iranian persecution of Christians.
Go here for a 2003 article on the situation of Iranian Jews, but also this Christian Science Monitor article for a nuanced account of Jewish life in Iran in 2007.
I have not yet found a good account of the situation of Iran’s Zoroastrians. I welcome any contributions.